October 29, 2020
October 29, 2020
What happened since October 22, 2020:
Since September 1, landlords have taken steps to move tenants out:
- Landlords have filed 481 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
- 490 Motions for Default have been filed—A Motion for Default is filed when a tenant misses a court deadline or a court event. If the Motion for Default is granted, the tenant automatically loses the case, and the landlord can ask the court to issue an Execution.
- Landlords have requested 306 Executions—If a court issues an Execution, the landlord can hire a marshal to move a tenant out.
- Courts have issued 166 Executions.
TRHAP program reopens: The TRHAP program began accepting new applications on Monday, October 26. DOH recommends that tenants apply online in English and Spanish at https://www.chfa.org/trhap/. The call center is also available to take applications at 1-860-785-3111.
Modifications to Connecticut eviction moratorium hurts tenants: On October 20, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 9H, which changes the eviction moratorium issued just a few weeks ago. Instead of ensuring that the eviction moratorium covers most tenants, the new order places limits on the reach of the eviction moratorium at a time when the number of COVID-19 cases are increasing to levels not seen since early in the pandemic. There is a high risk that tenants and landlords will be confused about the reach of existing protections, and that some landlords will resort to intimidation to get tenants out.
- What Executive Order 9H does:
- Extends the Connecticut eviction moratorium to December 31, 2020 for some tenants;
- Requires landlords to serve a CDC declaration in both English and Spanish with any Notice to Quit permitted by E.O. 9H, except Notices to Quit for serious nuisance;
- Requires that any Notice to Quit or Complaint for a rental arrearage equal to or greater than six months’ worth of rent due on or after March 1, 2020 state the amount of the rent arrearage, the months for which rent was unpaid, and the amount unpaid for each of those months;
- Requires that any Notice to Quit for rent due on or before February 29, 2020 specify and recite the period of nonpayment; and
- Requires that any Notice to Quit based upon the bona fide intention by the landlord to use the unit for the landlord’s principal residence state that reason and specify the lease’s expiration date.
- What Executive Order 9H does NOT do:
- It does not prohibit landlords from starting an eviction court case if the tenant a) owes rent that was due on or before February 29, 2020; b) owes six or more months’ worth of rent that was due on or after March 1, 2020; c) has created a serious nuisance; or d) has a lease that expired and the landlord has a bona fide intention to use the unit as the landlord’s primary residence;
- It does not stop the courts from holding court proceedings and issuing Executions in cases that were filed before the Connecticut moratorium began, and in cases that are not covered by the Connecticut moratorium.
What should tenants do?
Tenants may not be covered by the Connecticut moratorium for various reasons, including that (1) their landlord filed an eviction case before the Connecticut moratorium began on April 10, 2020; (2) they owe rent that was due on or before February 29, 2020; (3) they owe six or more months’ worth of rent due on or after March 1, 2020; or (4) their lease has expired and the landlord has a bona fide intention to use the unit as the landlord’s primary residence.
- CDC Moratorium: Tenants not covered by the Connecticut moratorium may still qualify for the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent or other housing payments because someone in their household lost income or has very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills. However, the CDC moratorium’s protection is not automatic. Tenants should begin by carefully reading the requirements a tenant must meet to qualify for the CDC moratorium. If every person over 18 in the household meets the requirements, then each of those people should fill out a CDC declaration and give each declaration to the landlord. Information about the declaration and how to create one is also available in Spanish. In addition, there are online forms here and here that can generate the CDC declaration. A summary of both the Connecticut and CDC moratoriums is available here.
- Remote Court Proceedings: Courts are scheduling remote hearings and mediations. If a tenant receives notice of a remote hearing or mediation, the tenant must attend either by video or phone, even if they have already given their landlord a CDC declaration. The tenant should make sure to send their email address and phone number to the email address listed on the notice so that the court can send them the meeting invitation.
- Responding to Eviction Papers: Tenants should not ignore eviction papers, filing deadlines, or notices about remote court events. Courts have begun entering Default Judgments against tenants who fail to file forms on time or attend remote court events. Learn more about the eviction court process here.
Assistance for people without legal status: The State’s rental assistance program for people without legal status is now open. To access this assistance, people should contact Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI) at 1-203-612-5464 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
211: Additional government assistance may be available. Tenants may call 211 to confirm what rent and housing assistance is available in their area.
Foreclosure risk is growing: A recent blog post from LISC, shows that seven months into the pandemic, there are more than 1 million households that are past due on their mortgage payments and not protected by a forbearance program. They are at near-term risk of foreclosure. Another 4 million households are in forbearance on their loans, and so are able to forestall their payments and avoid immediate loss. But they will be facing a significant financial burden to begin catching later this year or next, and may ultimately find themselves unable to pay. The loss of wealth to these households—especially in communities of color, where many homeowners never fully recovered from the last economic downturn—could impact generations to come.
Affidavit required for foreclosure filings: On September 24, the Judicial Branch issued a Standing Order that prohibits any foreclosure action from being filed or moving forward unless the bank or mortgage company files an affidavit stating that the loan is not a federally backed mortgage, is vacant, or is not in forbearance. If the affidavit is not filed with the Court, then the case may be dismissed.
Judicial Branch is scheduling hearings in foreclosure cases: Since the week of September 14, the Judicial Branch has been scheduling hearings in foreclosure cases where an execution has been requested, a hearing or status conference if necessary, and, in some circumstances, where the foreclosure has not proceeded as quickly as the court would like. If a hearing has been scheduled, the homeowner is supposed to receive notice from court staff providing instructions on how to participate in a remote hearing either by video or phone.
What should homeowners do?
Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone, and get some individualized questions answered in a way that they could at our in-person clinics or through the Judicial Branch’s Volunteer Attorney Program that we regularly staff during non-pandemic times. The program has been used by dozens of homeowners from across the state since it began this summer. Homeowners can sign up, answer a few short questions, and be set up with an appointment. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable amount of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.
Apply for T-MAP online: The number of successful applications for the State’s TMAP program remains low. TMAP now has an on-line application in English. It has not yet been translated into Spanish. To apply for assistance by telephone, call 1-860-785-3111. For more information about the program, click here
City of New Haven Rental Assistance Program: The City of New Haven’s rental assistance program promised to provide up to $3,000 in rental help for eligible low-income families who have struggled to make ends meet during the Covid-19 pandemic. The program also makes available up to $4,000 to local homeowners to assist with mortgage modification or forbearance. ERF aims to support renters already in housing court who have been affected by COVID-19 by covering up to $3,000 in back rent. To date, no money has been paid out through the program. The city is still accepting applications for housing aid. Interested applicants can call the city at 203-946-7090 or email email@example.com.
CDC moratorium is not helping tenants stay in their homes: Anchored in public health concerns that the economic stress of the pandemic will force millions of renters from the safety of their homes and into the crosshairs of a fast-spreading virus, the CDC order was designed to keep the estimated 40 million renters facing eviction this year in place through Jan. 1. “I want to make it unmistakably clear that I’m protecting people from evictions,” President Trump said in a statement when the CDC order was announced. Unfortunately, as tens of thousands of renters soon realized, rather than offer a bubble of stability in the midst of the pandemic, the federal response has injected confusion into housing courts. Because of the order’s wording, which gives local judges room for interpretation, and pushback from landlords, evictions have continued.
Digital divide hits people of color the hardest: Many Connecticut homes lack computers and reliable internet connections with nearly 20% of all homes lacking a computer and 25% lack reliable internet. People of color are most impacted by the digital divide with 37% of Hispanic residents, 31% of Black residents and 37% of Hartford, New Haven, Waterbury, New Britain, and Bridgeport residents did not have working computers. Statewide, 20% of Connecticut households did not have a desktop or a laptop. While this lack of access to the internet makes learning and working from home more challenging for people living in Connecticut’s cities, it also puts tenants and homeowners in a precarious position if they must participate in remote hearings to save their homes.
We have heard of the following court access problems:
Utility moratorium will end on October 31: Any residential customer having trouble paying their utility bills should contact their utility company and ask whether they are eligible to be “coded hardship.” If the customer is coded hardship, the utility company will not be able to shut off their utilities during the winter months. Special financial assistance programs are available to hardship customers. For more information, see this Operation Fuel website. Second, if a customer is ineligible for hardship status, they should ask to be placed on a COVID-19 Payment Plan. Enrollment for the COVID-19 Payment Program for residential customers is open until November 1, 2020.
- Center staff continue to participate in Facebook Live, community Zoom meetings, and tele-townhalls with legislative officials. If you would like our assistance reaching your constituency, please contact our outreach coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources for tenants and homeowners:
- here for more information on the Connecticut and federal CDC moratoriums.
- here to understand current rights for homeowners in Spanish and English.
- here to understand how fair housing can protect you during the COVID-19 crisis. (Our guidance is now available in 11 languages.)
- The Rent Recalculation Request tool can be accessed here in Spanish and English.
More COVID-19 resources can be found on our website here.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR FAIR HOUSING RIGHTS IN ENGLISH, SPANISH, MANDARIN, VIETNAMESE, FARSI, RUSSIAN, ITALIAN, KREYOL, ARABIC, KHMER, AND TAGALOG, CLICK HERE.
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